Welcome to the second video in our Harvest of the Month: Featured Farmer Spotlight. . This Month’s Fun Fact Question is “How do plants and fungi work together in an ecosystem?” In this episode, Patricia-Marie, our Education and Marketing Assistant, visits our featured farmers, Taylor and Jordan, at Wild Altar Farm in Stuarts Draft, VA. Together with Taylor and Jordan we explore how plants and fungi work together in an ecosystem and how these two farmers are working in harmony with their landscape to grow fresh food.

Student Objectives:

  • Identify how plants and fungi work together in an ecosystem
  • Meet a local farmer who is preparing for the growing season
  • Learn how to make a Mushroom Barley Soup

There are many types of edible mushrooms, such as portobello, oyster, morel, lions mane, shiitake, and more! Oyster mushrooms taste like seafood, morel mushrooms taste rich and have a meaty texture, and shiitake mushrooms have a deep and earthy flavor. Mushrooms come in a variety of colors like white, brown, pink, and more!  

Question: How do plants and fungi work together in an ecosystem?

Answer: Mushrooms are fungi and vegetables are plants. Fungi and plants play two different roles in an ecosystem. Plants are producers. Producers need sunlight and water to grow. Fungi are decomposers. Fungi use plants as a source of nutrients, such as a tree. In order to do this, fungi will break down a tree and after the tree will decay into soil. The soil will then help to grow new plants! Both plants and fungi can be edible, but some fungi are not safe to eat.

An example of a growing process for an edible mushroom is the process for shiitake. Shiitake mushrooms can grow on tree logs. First, take a bag of mycelium (fiber filled body of the  mushroom). Then, drill holes into a log and fill the holes with mycelium. After, the holes are filled they will be covered with wax. For 8 months the logs will incubate. Logs need to be kept moist. A dry log will kill mycelium. Mushroom can fruit from rain or be ‘forced’ to fruit by soaking logs in water for 24 hours. Eventually the mushroom (the fruiting body of the fungi) will emerge from the log!


Looking for a simple recipe that uses mushrooms? Download the Mushroom and Barley Soup Recipe!

¡Descargar la recenta para sopa de champiñones y cebada en español!


Meet Taylor Hanigosky and Jordan Fust of Wild Altar Farm!

In their words, “Wild Altar Farmstead is nestled into the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Big Levels Conservation Area. We values our forest edge location which offers dynamic interaction between the wild and the cultivated. We desire to understand and care for our landscape while harvesting its bounty to share with our community. Wild Altar emphasizes responsible and resilient practices such as no-till gardening, woodland restoration, and water conservation.”

You can visit Taylor and Jordan’s farm stand at the Waynesboro Farmer’s Market!